BLOG TOUR with Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Hello Amelia, and welcome to The Ravenous Reader blog. I hope that you enjoy your stay while I ask you a few questions :)

RR: Can you tell us about your newly released book?

Token of Darkness was an odd story for me to write. It is in many ways very different from my previous books. When I read the back of the book for the first time (no, I don’t write those blurbs), I literally paused and went, “Huh. I wrote that?”

The main character, Cooper, is not my normal protagonist. He is very mainstream, from a happy home; he is a football player with a healthy social life and normal dreams of his future, and he would have been happy to stay that way if the person writing his fate (me) hadn’t insisted on causing trouble. Also, although Token takes place in the exact same world as all my other published works, Cooper never (to his knowledge or mine) interacts with any of those characters or even breeds- no vampires, no Tristes, no Macht witches, no shapeshifters. There was originally a scene with Cooper in Persistence of Memory, where Erin met him briefly at SingleEarth, but it ended up cut from both books. Interestingly enough, the character Brent was also originally in Persistence of Memory. He (who used to be a she named Bri) was cut from Persistence as Sassy began to take a larger role, but then was perfect for Token… except that s/he had to be a guy to get the right kind of dynamic with Cooper.

Finally, as I’ve mentioned in other locations, Token is also more personal than many of my books. There is a lot of “me” in it, not in an obvious way for strangers, but obvious enough that I had beta readers who know me well read it and go, “I’ve heard you say that” or “I can tell you liked writing this scene.”

RR: What is your favorite line from Token of Darkness?

It would be hard for me to identify one particular favorite. Token has a lighter feel than much of my writing, and a lot of lines I find humorous, such as most of the dialogue between Cooper and Samantha.

One of my favorite moments is when Brent and Cooper first meet. Cooper tells Brent he is writing a book about ghosts in order to explain why he is researching them, and Brent starts coming up with a plethora of story-line suggestions, only to conclude with “I’m not creative” when Cooper asks if he writes. Brent (originally Bri) was inspired by and originally named after the leader of my writing group, who is far too modest for her own good sometimes, so that scene is as much a nod to her as it is an introduction of the character Brent.

RR: Do you have any other YA books in the works?

The next book slated for release is All Just Glass, a long-time-coming follow-up to Shattered Mirror. I have quite literally been working on the book on and off for the last ten years, and am very excited to have it nearly complete now (I just received the first cover proposal from my editor).

The next book after All Just Glass isn’t finalized yet, but I am leaning toward Poison Tree, which looks more closely at both SingleEarth (from Shattered Mirror) and the Bruja Guilds (from Midnight Predator). And later… well, I’ll just say I’m contemplating something big.

RR: What book is on your nightstand now?

At this exact moment, I lack a nightstand… but if I had one, it would have Assessing Learners with Special Needs: An Applied Approach; ¡Ven conmigo! and Home Improvement 1-2-3. The first is the textbook for the graduate course I am currently taking to finish the requirements for my licensure in special education, the second is the textbook for the high school Spanish class where I am working as an assistant, and the third was a recent gift from my brother-in-law. My fiancée and I are buying our first house, and immediately after moving in I will be redoing the bathroom, so all my relatives have taken to giving me how-to books and tools lately.

My most recent pleasure-read was Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer. I’m not good at following television shows, but I had seen a couple episodes without realizing the show was based on a book. I quickly discovered that the book and the novel are very different- I would even say they are different genres; they are certainly aimed at different audiences- but I am enough of a science nerd that I liked the book much more than the show.

The book I most wish was on my theoretical nightstand is The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb. I am very much a fan, and was thrilled to see she had returned to that group of characters, but I have so much going on right now that I had to resist buying it when I saw it in the bookstore. I have promised it to myself once the move and bathroom renovation are complete.

RR: What book has changed your life?

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein had a huge impact on me. It would be hard to articulate exactly what that impact was, except to say it made me think in a way I hadn’t previously.

In the list of books that have changed my life, I would also have to include Shakespeare’s Macbeth, though it wasn’t the story so much as my experience with it that caused the effect. I was first introduced to Macbeth in fourth grade by my teacher, who directed the entire class in a production of the Scottish play. I remember having words like “wherefore” on weekly vocabulary and spelling quizzes. Being involved in drama is an incredible, empowering experience. Being involved in high-quality, Shakespearian drama at that age definitely effected my views of what was possible. I certainly was never afraid of any English language arts reading assignment ever again- or of the notion of writing a novel.

RR: Had you always wanted to be a writer?

I get this question a lot, but the truth is, I always have been a writer. As soon as I could talk, I began to tell stories, and as soon as I could write, I started writing them down. There was never a point in my life when I decided, “I’m going to become a writer,” just a point in my life when other people started recognizing me as one.

RR: You have an impressive list of written work, if I had never read your books before what would you recommend that I start with first?

Technically, all the Den of Shadows books are a series, and technically, they do occur in order, but they are all meant to stand alone, as well. The Kiesha’ra books are meant to be read in order, so I wouldn’t recommend starting with Wyvernhail, but beyond that, you can really start at whatever point appeals to you.

RR: What do you do for inspiration?

I rarely “do” anything particular for inspiration. It’s more likely to come to me, in either good ways or bad. For example, the inspiration for Token of Darkness came from three major sources: a reference in Persistence of Memory, a doodle, and a traffic accident I witnessed.

The reference in Persistence intrigued me. I wanted to know who this kid was, and what his story was. The doodle (I doodle with pencils, or with graphics editing programs) was of a girl with brightly-colored hair and clothes sitting in shadows on a stool on a wall. I had no idea who the kid or the girl were; they just hung around in my mind a while. Then there was the accident, which was one of the more horrible things I have ever seen. I started writing for catharsis, and the two characters who had been kicking around in my head stood up and said it was their story I was writing.

That tends to be the way my writing goes. Good or bad, wanted or not, all of life is inspiration.

RR: What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?

For the week of March 1 – 5, I will be on Random Buzzers answering questions. Beyond that, the best way to reach me is through my blog or message board at I rarely email people, but I do read all comments on the blog, and I frequently participate in conversations on that message board, which I personally own and maintain.

Thank you for visiting my blog and for answering a few questions. I hope you enjoyed your stay.

If you enjoyed this interview and it got your interest going then you should enter in my contest for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies TOKEN OF DARKNESS that I am giving away HERE

Tour Stops:

Monday, March 1st Tales of the Ravenous Reader

Tuesday, March 2nd Park Avenue Princess

Wednesday, March 3rd The Story Siren

Thursday, March 4th Cynthia Leitich Smith

Friday, March 5th The Book Butterfly

Monday, March 8th Books by Their Covers


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